This is a labour of love and that’s a good thing. This is meant to be taken slowly and spaced over a couple of days – trust me, it will be more enjoyable that way, both to make and to enjoy. This pie is for expressing love. It’s a hug and a kiss and a warm mouthful of quince and custard and flaky pastry all at once. Enjoy the process – the quinces in the oven all day will fill your home with the most wonderful smell and licking the spare custard from the pan will be a delicious treat. This pie is inspired by one of the most delicious pies in the world, Natalie Paull’s Pillowy Peach & Polenta Pie from her bakery Beatrix. The way the fruit sits in the custard and the pastry drapes over the round fruit is just superb and inspired me to make this homage to quince.
250g plain flour
50g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons pure cream
3 large quinces
800g caster sugar
1 cinnamon quill
2 star anise
4 cardamom pods
1 vanilla bean
Pinch of salt
250ml full cream milk
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla bean paste
4 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
30g unsalted butter, room temperature
- Start the day before by poaching your quinces. Preheat your oven to 130 C. In a large wide oven proof dish with a lid, bring your sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally to ensure you sugar dissolves and doesn’t burn onto the bottom of your pan. Add the aromatics and set aside.
- Peel your quinces and cut them into quarters. Remove the core gently from each quarter and discard the cores. Add the quince quarters and the peel straight to the prepared syrup. Place over medium heat and bring up to a simmer. Meanwhile prepare a cartouche (a fancy word for a piece of parchment paper cut to the size of your pot to cover the quinces). Once simmering, turn the heat off, place the cartouche on the quinces, followed by the pot lid and place into your oven for 6 hours. Yes, 6 hours. At the end of these six hours, turn the oven off but do not remove the pot from the oven. I like to leave them in overnight or until they have cooled to room temperature.
- Gently scoop your quince quarters from the liquid and dry off on some paper towel. Patting dry and storing in a container in the fridge, resting on some more paper towel to absorb as much liquid as possible.
- Now, onto our custard. In a saucepan, heat milk and vanilla until just simmering. Meanwhile, mix your egg yolks with your cornflour and sugar. While whisking, gently pour a small amount of your hot milk into your egg/sugar/flour mix. Slowly adding more and more of the hot milk until you’ve added it all and it’s beautifully combined with no lumps.
- Place back into the saucepan and over a medium heat, whisk constantly until bubbling and thickened. Make sure you continue to whisk vigorously. This custard is thickened with the cornflour and it’s essential that you boil it out enough at the end so you don’t get a floury texture. Add the butter and whisk again until combined. Remove from heat.
- Pour into a container and top with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- On the day you’re wanting to serve the pie, prepare your pastry.
- Add flour and sugar and a little salt to a large bowl and combine well. Add your chilled, cubed butter and using pinching motions with your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until the whole thing takes on a yellowish hue and you have small pea sized blobs of butter remaining. Quickly whisk your egg yolk and cream together and add to the butter flour. I like to swap to a fork here and just barely bring it together. Separate the dough into two portions, one slightly bigger than the other for the base of the tart. Cover both with plastic wrap separately, flatten into a round disc and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
- Take the bigger of the two pastry discs from the fridge and roll out onto a lightly dusted workbench until big enough to fit your 25cm pie dish. I like to go to about 32-36cm diameter. Gently transfer the rolled pastry into your dish and lightly press into the corners. Trim away excess and cover with foil. Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180 C and remove quinces and custard from fridge.
- Once your hour in the freezer is up, add baking beads, rice, beans or whatever you prefer to use for blind baking to the pie shell (keeping the foil in place) and place on a flat baking tray in the oven for 25 minutes. When you remove it from the oven, also remove the other round of pastry from the fridge. Remove baking beads and foil and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.
- Once the base is no longer hot, spread your custard over the base in a thick layer. If it has become a little thick in the fridge, give it a vigorous mix beforehand. Gently layer your poached quinces over the custard.
- On a lightly dusted workbench, roll out your other pastry disc large enough to comfortably cover the top of your pie. Prepare a whisked egg and brush over the edges of the precooked pie base. Gently lay over the freshly rolled pastry top, helping it to fall into the gaps between the quinces. Make a few incisions in the pastry, I like to do one or two over each quince. And then place into the oven for 45 minutes.
- When done, transfer the pie dish to a wire rack and wait for it to cool enough that you can confidently handle the dish without burning yourself. Serve on your favourite plate. Very nice served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or lashing of thick double cream.
Clementine Day is a self-taught cook who lives and works on Wurundjeri Land in Melbourne, Australia. She runs Some Things I Like To Cook, an evolving project that celebrates the joy of food, drawing a meaningful connection between food, people and play.
With a relaxed and unfussy approach, Clementine’s recipes empower even the most inexperienced of cooks to create memorable experiences based around the simple act of eating and entertaining. She is passionate about encouraging others to have fun and trust their intuition in the kitchen, and her candid, refreshing approach to recipe writing feels like having a supportive best friend alongside as your cooking companion.
Clementine works on collaborative projects with a vast array of different creatives. This includes recipe development and contribution, dining projects, food styling, private lunches and dinners, and creative food publications. In 2020, Clementine released her first cookbook Coming Together, a collection of recipes based on six long lunches she hosted with friends, which she cooked, photographed, styled and self-published.
Follow Clementine on Instagram here.